A Man without a past meets a man without a future in Repaired by Melissa Collins
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Liam Davis is a man without a past. That’s what he wants everyone to believe, anyway. Hell-bent on erasing any memories of his previous life, he knows that starting over is all he can do. Hiding who he is, where he’s from, why he’s running, and especially who he’s left behind, Liam has run away from everything he’s ever known. His plan works perfectly until one day when Parker Ryan threatens to expose his carefully concealed world.
Parker Ryan is a man without a future. Sure, he’s a partner in one of New York’s most prestigious law firms, but he’ll never be more than a failure in the eyes of his boss, his father. Rather than break away from his father’s standards, he finds himself mindlessly pursuing them, in turn sacrificing anything that would actually make him happy.
When Liam’s and Parker’s lives collide, the ugly truth about who they really are, and who they hope to become reveals itself when they least expect it. As both of their lives become wrecked beyond all belief, they’ll learn how to rely on each other in their journey to become Repaired.
Walking over to us with a full tray of shots, she winked at Annie. “To the birthday girl.”
We each took a glass, clinking them together before downing the clear liquid. “Shit, that reminds me of college.” Coughing, I dropped the glass back onto the tray as the 151 burned a path down my throat.
Liam had no such issues, easily swallowing his shot and the spare one that Annie hadn’t taken. Assuming the reason for her refusal was also the reason for the shocked look on Drea’s face, Annie quickly excused Paulie and herself to go and greet other guests. Drea trailed behind them like a lost puppy.
When I turned to look at Liam, a similar look of shock was on his face. His jaw was locked tight, so tight it looked like he might crack a tooth. “So,” I dragged out the word, wondering why the hell Liam was so pissed off.
Liam gave me no response, walking away from me and toward the bar. By the time I caught up to him, he’d already ordered another round of shots. Figuring the night was only getting started, I joined him in one more shot. I declined the next round, but watched on in amazement as he downed his fifth shot within a matter of ten minutes.
“You better slow down.” Liam was a grown man and could make his own decisions and maybe he had a high tolerance, but, in my experience, being as angry as he seemed to be and drinking was never a good combination.
Without moving his body an inch, he graced me with a rather seething look. “What the hell is your problem?” I snapped.
“Nothing,” he grumbled. Shifting his position, he rested his elbows on the bar top and cradled his head in his hands. “Look, it’s nothing, okay.” Finally turning his head to me, his tone softened. There was so much pain in his eyes it bordered on anguish. My gut told me a man like Liam wouldn’t deal well with pity, so instead of pushing the issue, I tipped my chin to the bartender, who was starting to become overwhelmed with the growing crowd.
After she handed me the round I’d ordered, Liam’s eyes widened in shock. “Calm down. I didn’t get these for you.” In quick succession, I downed the two shots. Slowly, and with determined purpose, I dragged the back of my hand across my lips. Liam’s tongue darted out of his mouth, licking his own lips, almost as if he was subconsciously reacting to my own movements. Angling my head out to the dance floor, I reached down for his hand. “Let’s go.” Even if he’d thought I was asking—which I wasn’t—he didn’t answer.
With his feet glued firmly to the spot, he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose with his free hand. “Look, you don’t have–”
Stroking my thumb over the soft skin of his wrist, I interrupted him. “I know I don’t have to do anything, but right now, I want to dance. So unless you have some kind of objection to my body moving up against yours, or to other people seeing us out there, then you have no choice.”
Liam’s full lips quirked into a lazy grin, perhaps as a result of the alcohol, but I’d like to think it had more to do with me. “I don’t care who sees us,” he said with a carefree honesty.
“Good. Then let’s give them a show.”
For the briefest of seconds, I worried that maybe Liam didn’t dance, and that we were about to make terrible, drunken fools of ourselves, but that concern was all resolved when he started swaying his hips to the music. Shocked into staying still, I watched from his side, more than admiring the way his body swayed and popped. “Those are some mighty fine moves you’ve got there.” His joke was barely audible over the loud bass of the band, playing a cover of a rock song I’d heard once or twice. But his smile. Fuck, even in the dim, near-black nothingness of the bar, his smile lit up the room and it made it impossible not to fall in line behind him.
My hands fell to his hips, pulling his back right up against my front. With his ear right next to my mouth, I said, “I couldn’t get my brain, my feet, and my dick”—I pressed up against him as I pulled him back toward me to let him feel exactly what I’d meant—“to work all at the same time. Clearly, my body can only control two at a time.” Liam’s hands covered mine on his hips, his body gracefully undulating to the pulsing beat of the next, much slower, song.
Spinning to face me, he dropped his arms around my neck. Speaking just loud enough to be heard, he pressed his lips against my ear, sending an endless river of excitement coursing against my skin. “I like the way your body works.”
My hands found their way into his back pockets, squeezing the hard muscle of his ass. “Your body works pretty well, too.” Pressing my thigh in between his, I felt the hard heat of his erection. Almost as if there was nothing between us, I could feel his pulse beating along what I imagined was a thick vein running from his sac to his tip. My mouth watered at the thought of feeling it beat against my tongue. He adjusted his stance, allowing his dick to press up against mine and I barely concealed my pleasure, groaning into his ear. If the song had lasted a minute longer than it did, I would have come in my pants like some lust-ridden teenager jerking off for the first time.
Liam pulled back from me, angling his face in a way that caught the yellow-white glow of the lights he’d strung up earlier. Not for the first time, I was struck by how attractive he was. Everything about him was the definition of male beauty. From the naturally tanned skin and amber-brown eyes, to the day-old scruff dusting his jawline, to the rock hard muscles moving against mine; Liam was everything I wanted in a man.
And just as that thought barreled through my brain like a train inches away from derailing, he smiled at me—a gorgeously lopsided grin that somehow settled something in my brain and my body.
When I tried to make sense of it all, the band shifted gears once again, belting out the words to what was apparently Annie’s favorite song. The crowd quite literally went wild, filling what little space was left on the dance floor. We all moved together, laughing and having a genuinely good time.
Honestly, it was the most fun I had in recent memory. Watching Liam dance with his friends, getting lost in the music myself, it was as if I found a piece of myself I’d always been looking for. Or, to be more accurate, it was as if I found a part of myself I used to possess, but had somehow lost long ago.
When I looked down at my watch, I realized it was still early enough to catch the usual crowd down at Murray’s. Parker’s face lit up at the suggestion, probably because the thought of a pool game and a few beers was a hell of a lot more appealing than being schooled in painting.
When we pulled into the parking lot, I saw Gabe’s car parked in its usual spot. Tipping my head at the black sedan, I said, “Windows are all steamed up. Wonder who he’s got in there.” Parker looked to where Gabe was parked and laughed.
“It’s Zan,” he said with an odd air of certainty.
“How do you know?” Twisting in my seat, I unclicked the belt. “You can’t possibly see in there.”
“The blue car is his. Besides, I may have thrown them together the night I went looking for you.”
As we walked to the entrance, the car doors swung open. Gabe exited first, busied with tucking his shirt back in. We stopped just in time to catch Zan stepping out the other door, refastening his jeans. “Well, well, well,” I joked. “Looks like someone was having a little fun.”
Gabe slammed his door and walked to the other side where Zan stood, shocked into silence. He reached down and took Zan’s hand in his own. “Yeah, and based on the smug-ass look on your faces, I’d say you two were having fun not all that long ago.”
“You think we can stop talking about our collective sex lives long enough to grab a beer?” Zan butted in, desperate to change the conversation.
Once inside, we set up a game of pool and laughed over a few pitchers of beers. Sitting to the side of the game, I watched as Gabe and Parker laughed together, ribbing on each other pretty good. It was impossible not to be happy for Gabe when I caught him stealing casual touches from Zan. Whatever it was that was brewing between the two of them, it looked good on them.
“I think I’m done handling big sticks for the night,” Parker declared jokingly as he placed his pool cue on the table. “Until later of course.” The drinks had made his lips a touch looser and out came the joker. It was times like this when the parts of Parker’s character, which he’d tried to hide for so long, came out to play.
Waggling an eyebrow at me, he bumped my shoulder with his, nearly toppling me over. “Hit your limits already?” Keeping my voice low, I whispered my question to Parker as we walked over to a table. Zan and Gabe looked as if they were lost in a similar private conversation as they walked over to the bar to order another round of drinks.
Shrugging, his answer was of the simplest kind. “Just celebrating I guess.” Before we slid into our seats, he promised he’d slow down, not wanting to be a burden on me.
Grabbing his shoulders, I made sure to look deep into his sapphire blue eyes. “I’m never burdened by you. Ever. If anything, I’m better because of you.”
“Thank you,” he whispered, pressing a kiss to my cheek. “And I want to be better for you.”
The loud bang on the garage doors scared the shit out of, making me jump out of my skin. “Shit,” I yelled after hitting my head on the bumper. Despite calling out, “One second,” the banging continued. More than a little dizzy, my anger mounted as I walked toward the door. “Chill the fuck out,” I muttered as I wiped my hands on a work rag. The row of windows stretching through the mid-line of the door was tinted so that only someone on the inside could see out. They were designed that way so anyone peering into the shop wouldn’t be able to see what kind of cars were parked inside—a security tip I offered to Paulie after I’d started working here.
The man standing on the other side must not have heard me because he continued his relentless banging. At this rate, I’d be surprised if his knuckles weren’t all bloody and cut up.
Knowing he couldn’t see me did nothing to stop me from staying to the side. My initial intention was simply to check out who the hell was trying to break down my door. The last thing I needed was some psychopath ruining my night, but as I peered out the window, the last thought running through my mind was that he was a psycho.
Dressed in a modern grey suit, he was the epitome of class. The baby blue shirt underneath made his eyes pop, of course the anger simmering there amplified them as well. Pinching the bridge of his nose, he looked like he was trying to ward off some massive headache. Either he really was a psychopath, playing his part of the deception perfectly, or he was in a bind and genuinely in need of help. Watching him run his fingers through his thick dark brown hair, he let out a deep huff of breath. The door muffled his words, but I swear I heard him say, “Just my fucking luck.”
Having uttered that phrase more than a few times in my own life, I decided I’d let him in and see what he needed. The fact that my dick was twitching in my pants at the mere sight of him didn’t hurt his case much either.
He stood at attention as he listened to me unclicking the locks. The doors rolled open revealing his long, lean frame. This guy was money. It was written all over him, from his shirt to his shoes, from his shiny cufflinks to the BMW key dangling from his finger.
“Can I help you?” My voice was gruff, and I hoped he thought it was from his less than polite request to be seen, rather than the reaction I was having to him.
He eyed me, scanning my body from head to toe. Annoyance was written all over his face and my attraction quickly morphed into annoyance. “Excuse me,” I prompted when he still hadn’t spoken a single word. “You knocked on my door. Is there something I can help you with?”
“Uh, yeah,” he answered, running his hands through his hair once again. “Hit a pothole down the road,” he explained somewhat distractedly. He pointed in the direction in which I assumed his damaged car sat.
“Let me grab the keys to the tow truck.” Walking away from him, I felt his stare on my back.
By the time I walked back out of the office, he was gone. “What the hell?” I mumbled to myself, wondering where the hell he’d gone. For a split second, I actually wondered if I’d conjured him up from thin air to keep myself occupied as I closed the shop by myself. But the smell of his cologne still hung in the air, his heat like a shadow lingering in the open space.
It was only the sound of tires coming to a halt in the lot of the shop that pulled my attention away from drying the last droplets of water from Parker’s windshield. The sleek black sedan had to be Parker’s. It definitely wasn’t the usual ride of our clientele. Tucking the towel into my back pocket, I walked toward the car. Stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of Parker’s long legs stretching out of the car; my mouth actually went dry. Lying to myself, I chalked it up to working all afternoon without eating or drinking. If I wanted to be honest, it had everything to do with him. His long, strong legs were showcased perfectly in a pair of uppity khakis—khakis I should hate, but ones my fingers itched to rip from his body. It became impossible to look away from him as he swiped his aviators from his face. His biceps flexed under the thin cotton of his black polo, making swallowing a challenge. When he pushed them up into his sandy blond hair, it was almost as if I could feel the silkiness of the strands as they flopped back down into his eyes. His mouth fell wide open as he took in the sight of his car behind me. Turning around quickly, he thanked the driver for the ride and then shooed him away.
After clearing my throat, in some vain attempt at finding my voice, I managed a simple, “Hey.”
Parker looked down at my hand, extended for him to shake, with frustration that bordered on anger. It wasn’t lost on me that he was constantly reining in his emotions when he was around me. Tracking his gaze, I realized my hand was still dotted with specs of grease, though not enough that it should warrant that look.
He nodded his hello, not uttering a word. Shame forced me to tuck my hand into my pocket and walk him toward his car.
“Flat’s been changed,” I explained, squatting down to the new tire. “New rim and the damage to the under carriage is all taken care of, too.”
“I didn’t ask for it to be cleaned and detailed.” His voice was harsh, stressed even.
Completely thrown off guard by his blunt comment, I turned on my heel and walked us toward the office portion of the shop.
Once inside, I slid his bill across the counter. His eyes were glued to the detailed bill, but mine were glued to his chiseled face. His jaw ticked with an anger, which I couldn’t put my finger on. When he chewed on his lower lip, I couldn’t even hear my own thoughts clearly. The only sound racing through my ears was that of my pounding blood.
“An oil change?” He looked up at me with tense eyes.
“Yeah, but there’s no charge.” Pointing to the item on the list, I traced my finger to the side of the bill where all the prices were listed. “You were due for one and since I was stuck here, I needed something to keep myself busy.” The faraway look in his eyes suggested he hadn’t heard a word I’d just said.
“Why’d you do all of this?” His voice was softer, a touch less angry. “You didn’t have to.”
The blood thrummed in my ears even louder. Whatever hard shell he’d had on out at his car moments earlier, was cracking a little. Bits of himself he seemed to guard carefully were falling away like peeling paint, scattering across the floor.
Shrugging, I responded, “Yeah, I know. Was just trying to be nice since you were spending so much.”
The anger in his face returned with a vengeance, pulling tight lines in the corners of his eyes. Through clenched teeth, he gritted out, “I told you not to worry about the fucking money.”
His voice made my stomach twist in knots, and not simply because he was angry with me. The power, the control, the dominance of it all called to me on a level I spent years trying to cover up.
“Here.” Sliding a pen across the counter to him, I tipped my chin down at the paper. “Just sign it. What’s done is done, so unless you want me to drain the oil and throw mud at your precious car, then I can’t take those things back.” Turning around to the binder where we kept the sales receipts, I muttered under my breath, “You know some people are just thankful when someone else does something nice for them.”
When I turned back to the counter, Parker was holding the signed receipt in his hand, the anger absent from his eyes. “You’re right,” he admitted quietly.
Reaching for the paper, Parker made a very obvious move, grazing his fingers against mine as the sheet of paper glided like silk passing from his hand to mine. At the simple touch, his shoulders relaxed, sinking at least an inch or two away from his ears.
Gambling on the very obvious change in his demeanor, I took a chance and asked, “Is everything okay?”
His full lips parted as he sighed. Completely mesmerized by his long fingers raking through his hair and pulling his sunglasses down, I found my mouth opening, too. He tucked the sunglasses into his opened collar, exposing a light dusting of hair which matched the color on his head.
“If it’s about the car, I can charge you.” I laughed nervously. “I mean if taking your money will make you feel better, by all means, don’t let me get in your way.”
“It’s not you who’s the problem. I just had a shit day, but that’s none of your concern.” His words were quite the opposite of the stern self-confidence he’d shown just moments before.
When I didn’t respond with anything more than a laugh, Parker’s lips curled into a small smile, erasing the lines of tension, distorting his ocean blue eyes. He laughed along with me, softly, cautiously almost. “No, it’s okay, really. The car looks great. And I appreciate the oil change.” He handed me his credit card and I swiped it through the machine. Hypnotized by the masculine lines of his signature, I watched as he signed the receipt. “Besides,” he added, catching me staring at his hands. “It looks as if everything is squared away now.”
After filing away his receipt, we both walked out of the office. His heat was a palpable force surrounding me as he stood behind me. Nervousness coursed through my body. My fingers shaking, I tried but failed to lock the door. The keys dropped to the ground, sending a billow of dust up into the air.
Before I could grab them, Parker scooped them up. Dangling them in front of me, he smirked. “Everything okay?” He echoed my words from just a few minutes ago, but there was heat in his voice, gritty and raw somehow.
“Yeah. Fine.” Snatching the keys from his hands, I quickly locked the door; thankful I didn’t drop the keys again.
As we walked over to his BMW, an uncomfortable silence followed us. Rather than moving toward his own car, he escorted me to mine. “Can I pay you back with a beer?” Leaning against the glossy black paint of my car, he looked like a piece of artwork.
“You don’t have to. I said I didn’t mind doing those things.” Averting my eyes from his, I fumbled with the lock on my door. The key slid in easily, but turning it became a herculean task, like pulling the sword from the stone. My brain and hand wouldn’t work together to complete the simplest of tasks.
Parker’s hand fell to mine, steadying it. Heat passed between us as our eyes met over our joined hands. Relief washed over me as he spoke first, because for me speech was something that just wasn’t going to happen.
“Fine. Then it won’t be to pay you back. I had a shit day and I could use a drink.” He pulled his hand back at his admission, running it through his hair. “Sorry,” he added, looking down at my hand, frozen where he’d left it. Honestly, I was afraid if I moved it, the heat of his touch would be gone forever. “I didn’t mean to . . .” His words trailed off as he jammed his hands into his front pockets—an action that pulled the front of his khakis even tighter against his groin. “Forget it. Thanks again. See you around.”
On its own volition, my hand reached for his shoulder as he strode away from me. “Wait.” We faced each other again. Finding it impossible to do anything other than smile at him, I did just that. Angling my head down the block, I said, “There’s this place. Murray’s. It’s right down that way. We can grab a drink and some food there.” His torn look confused the fuck out of me since he’d just asked. Taking a chance on him, and on the physical spark I couldn’t possibly deny, I tried my best to convince him. “Let’s go have a drink and you can share some of your shit day with me.” He nodded and I added, “Besides it couldn’t possibly be worse than mine. Wait until I tell you all about this asshole and his BMW.”
One thing about this author: she's so good at what she does, she makes you forget you're reading a story about same-sex lovers and makes you think you're just reading a book about lovers. Period. It's really kind of cool the way she does that because it enhances the story, rather than detracts from it. And what a story! I have read every M/M book this author has written thus far and I thought nothing could be better than On Solid Ground (my personal favorite), but this one comes close. The story of Liam and Parker is just gut-wrenching at times and hard to read, but it will have you cheering for a happy ending for these two men who are just meant to be together. The way they go about that is sometimes funny, sometimes hard, but ultimately worth it. I won't give away anything here because I think that would be doing a disservice to the reader. Just read it. It's an amazing book.
About the Author:
Melissa Collins has always been a book worm. Studying Literature in college ensured that her nose was always stuck in a book. She followed her passion for reading to the most logical career choice: English teacher. Her hope was to share her passion for reading and the escapism of books to her students. Having spent more than a decade in front of a classroom, she can easily say that it’s been a dream.
Her passion for writing didn’t start until more recently. When she was home on maternity leave in early 2012, she read her first romance novel and her head filled with the passion, angst and laughter of the characters who she read about it. It wasn’t long before characters of her own took shape in her mind. Their lives took over Melissa’s brain and The Love Series was born.
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